There is no current mechanism for consensus among the very wide-spread Gunks climbing community. Anchor maintenance has been carried out by individuals with good intentions, based either on their own private evaluation of need and appropriateness, or perhaps in this case on a sample of a segment of local opinion.

When the current Preserve rules on anchors were formulated, the population and conditions were very different. Everyone carried pitons and hammers and knew how to use them. Now, only a small group of climbers have this expertise, and the vast majority of climbers rely on and sometimes supplicate these "masters" for fixed protection. Consensus used to be built in to the fabric of the activity itself, but now more and more climbers are in the position of theme-park users who expect and demand that the rides be properly maintained.

Population pressures are growing and the "climbing public" is swelling to include large numbers of people with little connection to and understanding of trad climbing or even basic outdoor values. There has been an accelerating shift in perspective, in which the conversion of our forests and lakes into gardens and swimming pools is viewed as a positive community development. Climbs are viewed as "community resources" which, like theme parks, have to be modified and maintained for the enjoyment and safety of the community. Natural challenges, part of the essence of trad climbing, are expected to be blunted when those features compromise the convenience and someone's perception of the safety of the "community."

In this environment, one has to wonder whether consensus is even an appropriate mechanism for preservation, or whether it might in fact be an agent of degradation, a polemical term I use advisedly, understanding that there are many who either welcome the demise of the natural state of the crag, or argue that it is already nothing more than an outdoor gym and so should be subject to an unlimited amount of further "improvements."

One of the problems with the interventionist approach has been the continued occurrence of unintended side-effects. As more and more reliable rappel anchors have appeared, there has been an upsurge of rappelling accidents, making the original safety arguments look preposterous in hindsight.

The accompanying elimination of walking back along the top has led to enormous impacts on the cliff base, these have led to massive construction projects in boulder field and cliff base, and in turn these improvements are now starting to lure non-climbers off the carriage road and up to the cliff base, increasing the impacts there even more and also, I suspect, adding a whole new set of issues. The accelerating impacts at the base and the new issues on the horizon make the Preserve position, which basically viewed sacrificing the cliff base as a good trade-off for preserving the top, more questionable than ever.